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Dawn will rise to take the Palace

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Dawn Approach ridden by jockey Kevin Manning. Picture: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire

Dawn Approach ridden by jockey Kevin Manning. Picture: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire

Dawn Approach ridden by jockey Kevin Manning. Picture: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire

ROYAL Ascot, and all its primness and propriety, takes centre stage this week, and the action on the lush green grass of the Berkshire course is set to be fit for a queen.

Tomorrow's opening day features a race that is not only going to be one of the spectacles of this meeting, but arguably of the 2013 season itself.

The headline act in the St James's Palace Stakes is Jim Bolger's Dawn Approach, who will return to racecourse action after his Epsom Derby implosion earlier this month when he trailed home last of the 12 runners after giving Kevin Manning a torrid time.

Reverting back to a mile, Dawn Approach will face the Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Magician, who was a massive doubt for this race at the end of last week, but is now one of three Aidan O'Brien runners in the field with high hopes that he will take his chance.

Also featuring in the Group One contest worth £350,000 is the Richard Hannon-trained Toronado, who still warrants loads of respect despite disappointing in the English 2,000 Guineas behind Dawn Approach.

Toronado has always been held in high regard by the Hannons and their stable jockey Richard Hughes, and that reputation hasn't wavered despite the fact he failed to trouble Dawn Approach at Newmarket.

The bookmakers have the top three all priced below 7/2, with Mars at 14/1 next best in places. But this is the day when all eyes will be focused on last year's champion juvenile Dawn Approach as he attempts to restore the faith of those who began to doubt him after Epsom.

At Epsom, the race surprised everyone as, instead of a good gallop, the Ballydoyle team slowed it right down and won the tactical battle.

But his stable companion and last Thursday's winner of the Ballycorus Stakes at Leopardstown, Leitir Mor, will ensure a good gallop for Dawn Approach.

The 5/4 price on Bolger's charge appears massive for a 2,000 Guineas winner who ran away from the field at the finish at Newmarket.

Yes, Dawn Approach's copybook was blotted at Epsom, but that was over a mile and a half.

The St James's Palace Stakes will be far from straightforward, but expect Dawn Approach to be full of running and, at the death, the Godolphin blue colours will likely pass the judge in front.

The involvement of Magician adds an element of intrigue as he is a winner over 10 furlongs and in the 2,000 Guineas over a mile.

But Dawn Approach is just that bit special and while his quick turnaround after Epsom is a slight concern, he's my winner and is available at a great price, too.


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